Spring ride

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It’s not summer yet. We’ve only just left the grisaille of a Normandy winter behind and in March you never know what weather you’re going to get. So take your opportunities when you can.

When we saw that the day was bright, we forgot about the work we should have been doing and grabbed the bikes. We knew we wouldn’t be back in time for lunch so while I got the e-bikes ready, Trish whipped up a quick packed lunch.

It was glorious – not a cloud in sight and the sky the deeper blue of summer. There were signs of spring everywhere – including sloe blossom and celandines. The fields showed hints of life in the dazzling light.

We took a road we haven’t travelled in many years. Friends used to live down this lane, but they moved away a long time ago. As you cycle, there’s time for memories to flow back. As the turning to their old house came up, I recalled that there is a château opposite. A hedge has grown up since we were last that way, but the house was still there – shuttered up, as châteaux so often are.

After about 16km we stopped for lunch. Trish had thought to strap a groundsheet to her bike’s rack. I had to take off my jacket and hi-vis gilet – a t-shirt was enough in the warm sun.

We meandered back, choosing the scenic route, in no hurry to get home.

It was a near-perfect ride, the only fly in the ointment be … well, flies. And beetles. And bees.

At one point a bee hit my jacket so hard I thought I’d been shot. I swallowed one fly, very aware that they seemed to be most numerous around the manure piles that farmers have readied for ploughing in. Let’s not think about that too much. At one point something bounced off my helmet and dived down under the neckline of my jacket. Then it started biting. I must have been quite a sight as I wobbled along on the bicycle frantically clawing at my neck.

But that was a small price to pay. Cycling on days like this infuses you with a great sense of well-being. And the e-bikes make it easy – you don’t even have to think about whether you feel up to cycling, you can just do it.

We’d covered about 35km by the time we got home. Just after night fell, a wind got up and the fog rolled in. We really had the best of the day.

 

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